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Sinclair CEO ‘Disappointed’ Hulu and YouTube TV Dropped RSNs, May Lead to 10% Drop in Subscriber Revenue

Stephanie Sengwe

Sinclair has been having a rough go at when it comes maintaining carriage of their sports RSNs on streamers. Recently, both YouTube TV and Hulu Live TV opted to no longer carry the channels.

Sinclair pointed to these as a cause for a “decline in distribution revenue” as well as “elevated levels of subscriber erosion” in their Q3 earnings report this morning. The company expects cord-cutting and the loss of YouTube TV and Hulu to lead to a 10 percent decline in subscriber revenue.

YouTube TV led the way early in October, when they announced they would be dropping their 21 Fox Regional Sports Networks. The streamer reached a short-term extension in March, which saw most Fox Sports RSNs return to the line-up with the exception of YES Network, Fox Sports West, and Fox Sports Prime Ticket.

On October 23, Hulu Live TV followed suit, dropping 23 Fox Regional Sports Networks including YES Network and Marquee Sports Network, which joined the service in March.

During their Q3 earning call this morning, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley expressed a level of despondency over the situation, however, with the pandemic still at large, he was also understanding of their decisions.

“On the one hand we are certainly disappointed that Hulu and YouTube made the decision they did. It seems contrary to their previous stance. Hulu for instance, picked up Marquee at the beginning of this year, and if you take a look at all their advertising, it’s very focused on live sports,” he stated.

“On the other hand, due to COVID, the timing of their renewal was such that we don’t have live sports right now and probably won’t have live sports until the beginning of next year. Even that’s a moving target right now based on what the NBA and NHL are trying to figure out for those seasons.”

Over the course of the last 18 months, Sinclair has been in a number of distribution disputes with Live TV Streaming Services. Most notably, they’ve gone head-to-head with Dish and were not able to reach an agreement. In July 2019, Fox Sports announced that Sling TV and Dish Network dropped 21 Fox Regional Sports Networks. Then in January, they were dropped by fuboTV and saw PlayStation Vue shut down, which carried the channels.

They have also been left out of T-Mobile’s TVision Live service, which offers NBC Sports RSNs, but not Fox Sports RSNs from Sinclair.

From when they bought Fox Sports RSNs in May 2019 to today, Sinclair has lost 3.4 million from Hulu Live TV, 3 million from YouTube TV, a portion of the 2.2 million from Sling TV who had Sling Blue, and ~300K from fuboTV — nearly 8 million streaming subscribers in total.

The only way to stream Fox RSNs now is through AT&T TV NOW, which requires their $80 Max plan. However, they have seen monthly subscribers drop over 60% to under 700K over the last 2 years.

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